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The coronavirus pandemic has caused uncertainty throughout work and home life in the UK, so it’s no surprise that Brits are seeking out comfort and familiarity wherever they can – including in their food and drink purchases.
A new report from Co-op found that shoppers are craving simple flavours and traditional products as they turned to nostalgic comfort foods during the lockdown. Sales of traditional quick-fix, packet desserts in particular have been on the up, with a massive 738% rise in sales of dried trifle and a 336% increase in custard powder.
Other packet mixes, such as Smash, proved popular, and sales of tinned foods, including tinned pineapple slices (up 343%) and canned ham (up 179%) were also on the rise.
Traditional British cooking was the most popular cuisine throughout lockdown (31%), followed by Italian (24%) and Indian (8%). According to the report, 76% of consumers cooked a traditional-style dish during lockdown, with sausage and mash being the most popular meal. Meanwhile, 37% of the nation revisited dishes from their childhood while stuck at home.
“With an increase in at-home dining occasions during lockdown, customers turned to traditional recipes and pub classics to keep them comforted during the uncertain times,” explained Matt Hood, commercial director at Co-op.
“Packet mixes such as instant mash potato, trifle and custard, as well as canned meats and fish and even pickled onions also sold really well, as it looks like some consumers adopted habits similar to those of the 1970s.”
Despite the fact that the pandemic is also accelerating the vegan trend, Dr Christy Fergusson, The Food Psychologist, said that many Brits were looking to recreate feelings of comfort, relaxation and joy through their meals at a time when they couldn’t see family and friends.
“For many, recreating their favourite pub meals will signify comfort and familiarity in a time when life has felt uncertain and stressful. And the taste of food can also trigger associative memories so could explain why Brits have been turning to nostalgic desserts such as packet trifle and custard which may remind them of fond childhood times with family and friends,” she said.
Top comeback items in volume:
1. Packet trifle – 738%
2. Tinned pineapple slices – 343%
3. Custard powder – 336%
4. Tinned mandarins – 334%
5. Jelly – 342%
6. Canned ham – 179%
7. Pickled onions – 166%
8. Canned corned beef – 90%
9. Long-life milk – 81%
10. Smash – 59%